Professor Hans Crijns is a Partner of Vlerick Business School where he is head of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Director of the Impulse Centre "Growth Management for medium - sized enterprises" (iGMO). He is a highly motivated and dynamic teacher, and an entrepreneurship and growth management professional. With more than 20 years of worldwide experience, he impacts entrepreneurs and managers by bringing fresh visionary perspectives and wide ranging industry/academic experience to the creation and implementation of new ventures and growth strategies. Hans works together with more than 100 entrepreneurs who are owner/managers of growing mid - size companies in Belgium. In his work he promotes the concept of entrepreneurial orientation, incorporating a wide range of views and approaches by engaging in a dialogical process. Hans gives you insights in the entrepreneurial processes and what this can mean for you. You will be inspired by his dynamic approach on how you can set up entrepreneurial ventures and how to grow. His approach is both academic and pragmatic.
What are the specifics of your MBA programme?
Vlerick Business School is Belgium’s only triple accredited business school and offers the only FT MBA in Belgium to be ranked globally by the FT and the Economist. Founded in 1953 by the renowned academic, entrepreneur and politician, Professor André Vlerick, Vlerick Business School has been leading innovation in business for well over half a century. Being the management school of Belgium’s two largest universities – Ghent University and KU Leuven – the School has built a solid, worldwide reputation as a leading, independent institution with a h4 international focus and close ties to both the academic and corporate worlds.
What are the characteristics you are looking for in applicants?
Vlerick looks for three characteristics. The first is the demonstration of academic potential. Our FT MBA programme is academically rigorous and the demands placed on a candidate in a one - year programme can be incredibly challenging. Therefore, admissible candidates must have demonstrated academic success in their undergraduate years and performed well on one of the analytical tests (GMAT, GRE, or VBAT). Secondly, we expect all candidates to demonstrate managerial potential. We do not expect all students to have actual management experience, although we do require at least three years of post - graduate experience. Nonetheless, Vlerick trains future managers and leaders and, in doing so, we believe we only develop what’s already inside. One’s career performance and letters of recommendation are helpful in determining managerial potential. We also interview all candidates and ask questions that further illustrate one’s potential to manage. Finally, and most importantly, we look for a good fit. We believe the bond a student has with his or her MBA experience is one that lasts a lifetime. In this sense, we want to make sure that every student we invite to be in our community is a good fit for Vlerick and that we are also a good fit for the student. In the personal essays we require for admission and during our interviews, we ask questions that help us understand a candidate’s motivation to do an MBA, and more importantly, a Vlerick MBA. Across all of these issues, we look to create a well - balanced cohort and seek diversity in the classroom. This includes academic, cultural, professional and motivational diversity.
What is different about your programme and your school’s approach to business education?
Two things stand out in response to this question. The first would be the highly international composition of our cohort. Nearly 90% of our cohort is non - Belgians. And, while we maintain a smaller cohort of only 45 - 50 students, we attract candidates from over 20 countries. This ensures that our students are bringing a diversity of context and ideas to the classroom conversation. Furthermore, all of our students have considerable experience –seven years on average. Our students come from a wide range of industries serving in a variety of professional roles. The second would be the pragmatic approach our programme takes. We have heard and responded to the criticism from employers that MBA programmes globally prepare very bright people, but people who have a difficulty in applying their knowledge. Throughout the learning process, we have integrated a number of business simulations and games so that students are constantly applying what they are learning. Furthermore, every student is required to participate in a two - month experiential learning project, which places students in a company or with a non - profit organisation/community. During this process students can apply the knowledge they have gained during their MBA studies to a project that has been vetted by our faculty.
Could you describe the structure of your programme?
The Vlerick FT MBA is a 12 - month programme which, through our core requirements, provides each student with the foundations needed to take on managerial roles in a global context. In addition, every student can tailor his/her programme to meet individual needs. Each student selects three elective modules, chooses an international experience, and determines whether he/she would like to conduct their experiential learning project in a for- profit company or an NGO, non - profit, or community based environment. Throughout the entire programme, and in parallel with the course content and experiential learning programmes, our students are supported in their career management process by a team of career professionals. This process includes career assessment, market education, and opportunity matching.
What business areas do your students generally enter after graduation?
We attract an incredibly diverse group of students who bring disparate backgrounds and disparate aspirations to their MBA experience. As such, our students enter a wide range of careers upon graduation. Our students take on various managerial, consulting, and entrepreneurial roles in industries ranging from Financial Services to Healthcare to Energy to Manufacturing to Governmental and Non - Governmental Organisations.
What advice would you give to potential candidates?
There are three pieces of advice I would give an individual who is looking to do an MBA. Firstly, the candidate needs to be prepared. The MBA experience can be incredibly rigorous and challenging. There are many ways to prepare oneself for it in advance. It does not hurt to brush up on topics like Financial Accounting or Statistics. If these are entirely new topics to you, there are many tutorials available to provide a foundation. Read, read, and read as much as possible just to train yourself to read, read, read, as you will be doing a lot of reading in the MBA. Secondly, I would recommend candidates to be positive. For many, this is not an issue. Yet, for some, fear and self - doubt can serve as a disadvantage. We want to know why you would be a good addition to our cohort and how you will enhance the experience for everyone around you. Being positive during the MBA admissions process will serve as a helpful primer for your job recruitment process, during which a positive attitude is absolutely imperative. Lastly, while it is important to be positive, it is essential that you are honest. The MBA application process is one of those rare times during which you have the opportunity to be reflective. Take advantage of that opportunity, but make sure you pursue that process honestly. We want to know who you are, not who you think we want you to be.
What is your school doing to remain at the forefront of business and management thinking?
We engage regularly with our corporate partners to understand their needs and how the changing markets are affecting their businesses. Our faculty work in consulting roles with some of Europe’s most innovative companies and are bringing back with them ideas that help inform their research and the changes necessary to our MBA curriculum.
How does the size of the class affect the quality of education?
Vlerick h4ly believes in keeping the class size on the smaller side. In fact, our classroom infrastructure does not allow for the size of individual classes to exceed 65 students. The interaction between students and faculty, and among the students is integral to the learning process. Our FT MBA consists of about 45 - 50 students from over 20 different nationalities on average.
How is the Entrepreneurship track incorporated within your programme?
- Mandatory course on entrepreneurship
- Elective track on entrepreneurship including elective courses on entrepreneurial finance, social entrepreneurship and buyouts/buyins
What percentage of your students embarks upon entrepreneurial ventures after graduation?
It is hard to measure but as far as we know:
- 5% of the students start up their own project within three years;
- 67% of our alumni in total have founded/taken over a venture at some point in their career.
Does your school have special facilities that help students with entrepreneurial interests (e.g. business/ start up incubators/ simulators)?
- Networking events: “Meet the Entrepreneurs” (MENT), “Diamonds in the rough”, sponsored by Vlerick Forum Social Entrepreneurship;
- Projects: In Company Projects (also for start
- ups), Giving Something Back projects (Social Entrepreneurship);
- Awards: “EnterpriZe”, “WOMED Award”, “Entrepreneur of the Year”;
- Business Plan Projects & Competitions: BP Assignments, BRIDEE (“Bridging Design and Entrepreneurship Education”), Battle of Talents, Vlerick Best Business Plan, Business Plan of the Year Competition;
- Partner in the Business Angel Network Vlaanderen BAN.
We don’t have an incubator ourselves, but there are many local ones around with whom we maintain close contacts to refer our students to (eg iMinds, Startit@KBC, etc)